NOWRA has fallen just shy of making the Brian Gainsford Country Shield grand final after falling to Armidale.
Armidale pulled off an unlikely three-run victory over Nowra in the nail-biting semi-final of the cricket competition, held in Cowra on Saturday, December 29.
The New England side scratched together a total of 98 after reeling at 3-3 in the fourth over, thanks largely to a lone captain’s knock of 35 from Andrew Brownlie.
Although Nowra was 1-0, it settled before buckling under the pressure applied from Armidale’s quicks to be dismissed in the 36th over for 95.
“It’s fantastic, I can’t believe it,” Brownlie said.
“We didn’t have enough runs – we batted poorly in some instances and they bowled really well. Some of our shots were terrible and the wicket was tough. It was hard to get in and feel comfortable, but credit to them they bowled really well.”
After Alex Legge (2-12) did the damage initially, Nowra found success through the slower bowlers with Matt Junk (4-38) and Michael Coulter (2-10) the chief wicket takers.
Nowra’s innings began just as poorly as Karl Triebe (1-17) struck in the first over thanks to a diving leg-side catch from wicket keeper Brad Smith.
The Shoalhaven batsmen steadied eating into the small total as Sam Watts (12) and Matt Junk (16) put on 45 for the second wicket.
Wickets then fell at regular intervals until the score was 9-81 thanks to seamers Luke Brown (4-32), Sam Uphill (2-18) and Henry Cupitt (3-21).
A final wicket stand between Jack Watts and Alex Legge saw them come agonisingly close to a heroic finish, bowled out in the 37th over.
Nowra captain, Michael Coulter, was disappointed with the batting performance after they had set things up with the ball.
“It would have been good to win but we only have ourselves to blame,” he said.
“When you bowl them out in the 90s we shot ourselves in the foot - I think we should have got that two down with the side we’ve got but they bowled well and we played a few silly shots.
“Our spinners bowled well together and they backed up the seamers’ good start – I thought we bowled really well we just didn’t back it up with the bat.”
Coulter believes the exciting contest is why you play the game.
“That’s why you play sport I guess - for the tight finishes,” he said.
“Sometimes you come out on top and sometimes you don’t – you’ve just got to take the good with the bad.
“Being a club side it has been a pretty good feat to get to this stage and we have played some good rep sides and faced good cricketers, so it was good experience.”